[Videolib] RE: Feature films and library collections

Bergman, Barbara J (barbara.bergman@mnsu.edu)
Tue, 27 May 2003 09:00:08 -0500

What's with the rant against feature films?

You make it sound like we're all buying movies instead of educational films. I include feature films and tv documentaries in my mix for several reasons. And I do stress that it is a mix that my purchasing includes a lot of well-reviewed pricey documentaries as well.

Feature films can be used to clarify or creatively illustrate a point. (Need I mention Shakespeare?) Feature films bring in students (especially foreign students) who then see what else we have available in the library. The foreign and/or classic films are nearly impossible to find at Blockbuster.
Faculty view TV documentaries when they're broadcast, like them, and know the program fits into what they're teaching in class. You complain about TV productions being made to fit into a specific time frame. Guess what -- that time frame also fits into the average 50 minute class. Am I saying that filmmakers shouldn't make a 97 minute documentary? No. But I have a lot of faculty who will look for a video under 50 minutes instead because they aren't willing to give up two class periods.

Frankly, they're inexpensive. If I spend 20% of my budget on them, and they account for more than 50% of the titles acquired, it sounds like a good thing to me. I know that your market isn't big enough for you to be selling documentaries for $20, but I don't have much sympathy for the distributors selling their product for $400. My budget isn't very big. When the money starts getting tight, do I buy 10 $25 videos for 10 people or one $250 video for one person, and tell the other 9 that they'll have to wait until next year? I'll take a chance on $100 video, but at $300, I need faculty swearing that they'll use it often.

Finally, don't blame the librarians for everything. Most of the library's purchasing is faculty driven.

It's the end of our fiscal year, and I've been sorting through all the video requests I couldn't fill, so I'm a little cranky today...


-----Original Message-----
From: Chip Taylor [mailto:sales@chiptaylor.com]
Sent: Fri 5/23/2003 5:24 PM
To: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
Subject: RE: response to: [Videolib] Digital materials and library collections

Hi Lisa,
I thought I'd share my perspective regarding Digital Materials and Library
Over the past years I have seen libraries, both public and college, add an
abundant number of feature films in their collections, by-passing
traditional educational videos in many cases - for a number of reasons, one
of which, especially in Public Libraries, is to increase untilization.

Because this kind of thinking overlooks what I feel the true mission of a
library should be, in relation to choosing education and awareness over
entertainment and utilization numbers, I have seen analog video practically
decimate the traditional educational video business, of producing specific
programs on specific topics at various lengths for educators and
instructors. In their place at best are made-for-television productions that
must fit certain minute-length criteria, and at their worst are Home Videos
and Feature Films which may be more fun to view but don't provide a balance
for viewers, especially young children and teens, who already are swamped
with movies, cable, and now the Internet which compete to entertain them.

Way, way, way too many educators and librarians have fallen into this trap,
supported by Home Video lobbyists, be they Home Video vendors, Home Video
Reviewers, etc. who of course think it's appropriate to teach and instruct
with these materials. And not enough administrators think about the social
and educational effects of audio visual materials on the people who watch
them, thinking mostly about justifying expenses based on utilization

This is not always the case, everywhere, but overwhelmingly throughout
American it is true, which means an educational video producer, distributor
has to change in order to survive. I know, because my company is one of
those that has had to change dramatically to survive. Now we face the
digital world. Not only DVD, but also delivery of video via digital

Like many things there are shortcuts vendors can - and do - take in order to
get the jump on the competition. Educators and librarians across the country
experience this daily. Not including Feature Films, which are mass produced
by the major studios, or Broadcasted programs that too can be mass produced,
there are many DVDs that don't work, that are lousy transfers, that are
straight copies from videos with no Menus and no Chapter Points - and the
same can be said about Streaming Media, there are downloads that can't be
accessed by all, some have lousy quality, some can tie up networks, etc.

I mentioned the "mission" of educators and librarians upfront because
digital is such a fast moving technology that too many people can get so
caught up in the latest "thing" they can forget what their most valuable
contribution to their community - be it a classroom or a storytelling hour,
etc. - really is. We need people in American to remember their mission,
value their worth to their communities, examine their priorities, challenge
those who have forgotten what's really important about being educators,
librarians and administrators and remind them that technology is something
we can use as a plus, to educate, to inform, to increase awareness, to heal,
to help - not JUST to entertain.

I know it's fun to watch movies and creative show - and I'm not saying
educators and librarians shouldn't order movies and home videos/DVDs, but I
am saying I do wish people would consider balancing things again, save some
room for quality educational and instructional programs - they do have an
important place in our society.

Video is a great tool and DVD can become an even greater new tool. To give
the highest quality possible, my company encodes programs from the original
masters; then we create Menus and Chapter Points which are a wonderful
feature of DVDs; also we are now in the process of Captioning all our DVDs.
And we now offer all our customers who want video streaming, digital files
in Quicktime or Windows Media Player with the same Chapter Points and

All of this has come at a great price and as always I welcome the
opportunity to work here in America with the greatest educators and
librarians in the world to see that our nation remains dedicated to
education, for never in the history of the world has it been more apparent
that this world needs educated, unbiased, open-minded people, if we are ever
going to achieve a true and lasting peace.

Technology, if utlizied properly, can help not only our country, but all
countries to communicate, to educate, to seek peaceful answers to the
problems that divide us. If we choose only to entertain, to look the other
way, to worry only about numbers and not enough about people, then we will
waste the gift that these new technologies offer us.

Thank you again for the opportunity to address something that is very
important to me.


Chip Taylor, President
Chip Taylor Communications

-----Original Message-----
From: videolib-bounces@library.berkeley.edu
[mailto:videolib-bounces@library.berkeley.edu]On Behalf Of Lisa Irwin
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2003 3:58 PM
To: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
Subject: [Videolib] Digital materials and library collections

Dear VideoLibbers,

As members of a LIS course multimedia focus group, we are interested in
comments from professionals working with multimedia materials regarding how
a shift from analog-based to digital-based materials affects library
collections. Specifically, how do you anticipate that your collections will
be able to incorporate digital video and digital audio? What are the
implications of a trend toward access to bits rather than ownership for
library collections and patron services? How do you envision multimedia
collections and services changing in the coming decade relative to advances
in technology?

Any thoughts and comments will be gratefully received! (Feel free to
respond off-list if you feel it would be more appropriate.)


Lisa Irwin (af1587@wayne.edu)
(on behalf of the Multimedia Focus Group, Internet Resources course at Wayne
State University)

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